Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats

THEGHINESEPEOPLE                   33

on in the great stream of the family life. The family system also
acted as a direct incentive to quantitative reproduction, for
in order that the Lin branch should survive, it is necessary that
many Lin babies should come into this world.

Perhaps it was due entirely to the family system that the
Chinese were able to absorb the Jews of Honan, who to-day are
so thoroughly sinolized that their Jewish tradition of not eating
pork has become a mere memory. The race consciousness of
the Jews can be shamed into oblivion only by the greater race
consciousness of the family-minded Chinese, and it was no
mean accomplishment in the ethnological field. With a less
race-conscious and race-proud people than the Jews, like the
northern Tartars, for instance, it is easy to see that the Chinese
native inhabitants were placed in a great advantage over their
foreign invaders. It is in this sense that Manchuria will remain
Chinese in spite of all Japanese machinations; the political
order may be changed, and rulers may come and rulers may
go, but the Chinese families will remain Chinese families.

Another cultural force making for social stability was the
complete absence of established classes in China, and the
opportunity open for all to rise in the social scale through the
imperial examination system. While the family system
accounted for their survival through fecundity, the imperial
examination system effected a qualitative selection, and
enabled talent to reproduce and propagate itself. This system,
which was started in the T'ang Dynasty and based on the
ultimate Chinese belief that no man is born noble,1 had its
rudiments in the system of civil service and official recom-
mendations in the Han Dynasty. After the Wei and Ch'in
Dynasties (third and fourth centuries A.D.) a change in the
control of selection for office brought about a system favouring
influential families, so much so that it was stated that "there
were no poor scholars in the higher classes and no sons of
official families in the lower classes."2 This favoured the
growth of aristocratic families in the Ch'in Dynasty.

With the imperial examination system in the T'ang Dynasty
(seventh to ninth centuries inclusive) a system was put into

1 The Chinese for this is, "There is no blood in premiers and generals."

2 These refer to the "nine classes" of scholars in the Ch'in Dynasty.